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The number of temporary employees in the UK decreased by 1.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis to a total of 1.56 million in the three-month period from March to May 2018 when compared to the same period a year ago, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Temporary workers are self-identified when surveyed by the ONS, and they include those who are on fixed-period contracts, agency temp workers, casual workers, seasonal workers and others in temporary work.

Data from the ONS also showed that the unemployment rate was 4.2% for the same three-month period, down from 4.5% for a year earlier and the joint lowest since 1975. Overall for the period, there were 1.41 million unemployed people, 84,000 fewer than for a year earlier.

The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 years who were in work) was 75.7%, higher than for a year earlier (74.9%) and the highest since comparable records began in 1971. Overall, there were 32.40 million people in work, 388,000 more than for a year earlier.

Estimates from the ONS showed that average weekly earnings for employees in the UK in nominal terms (that is, not adjusted for price inflation) increased by 2.7% excluding bonuses, and by 2.5% including bonuses, compared with a year earlier. In real terms (that is, adjusted for price inflation) average weekly earnings increased by 0.4% excluding bonuses, and by 0.2% including bonuses, compared with a year earlier.

Further data from ONS found that for the period from March to May 2018, 95,000 people had become redundant in the three months before the Labour Force Survey interviews, little changed compared with a year earlier.

Meanwhile, there were 824,000 job vacancies for April to June 2018. This was 39,000 more than for a year earlier and the highest since comparable records began in 2001. ONS also showed that self-employed people were little changed at 4.79 million (14.8% of all people in work).

“We’ve had yet another record employment rate, while the number of job vacancies is also a new record,” Senior ONS statistician Matt Hughes said. “From this it’s clear that the labour market is still growing strongly. Meanwhile real earnings remain modestly up on the year, both including and excluding bonuses.”

Julia Kermode, Chief Executive of the Freelancer & Contractor Services Association, also commented on the figures, "The fact that after a recent dip, self-employment has now stabilised at 4.8 million is good news for the economy, as FCSA’s analysis of BEIS Business Population Estimates suggest that self-employment is worth £271 billion to the economy.  It’s also good news for firms that engage self-employed professionals - not only do they benefit from hiring specific skills, the businesses are also more agile and reactive to changing circumstances."